Do you have a dairy farm that is not keeping you busy enough? Your small dairy farm might not be making enough money, but this can change.
With lots of options to increase your income, several questions arise that you’re probably asking yourself.
On my existing dairy farm, should I grow mushrooms for extra money? Which are most profitable, and how much work is it? How much can you make?
Mushrooms can be easily grown to make extra money. Oyster mushrooms are quite popular, so you can make money selling them.
Keep on reading to find out.
Why Should You Grow Mushrooms?
Mushrooms are always in high demand and are relatively easy to grow because you can easily control their growing conditions. At the same time, some types of mushrooms grow too fast, so you can have several harvests per year.
Compared to other crops, mushrooms cost less to grow and don’t need much maintenance, so even a beginner can grow them at home or on a farm. You can even grow them indoors.
Which Mushrooms Should You Grow on your Dairy Farm?
Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are among the most popular types because they’re widely spread in several dishes. There are other types of mushrooms that you can grow on your farm, but these are usually grown for medicinal uses and might not be that easy to sell.
It’s crucial to study the local market to make sure that people would be interested in buying your mushrooms.
Truffles are quite expensive to buy, but if there are no local buyers who might be interested in your freshly grown mushrooms, you should consider growing another type of mushrooms.
Is Research Needed Before Growing Mushrooms?
Although they’re suitable for small-scale growers as well as more experienced farmers, you need to do a little research before growing mushrooms.
- Make sure that the mushrooms you’re growing are suitable for the conditions on your dairy farm. Be careful about controlling the level of moisture, light, temperature, and air movement as mushrooms have different needs than green crops.
- Look for easier types to grow. Button and oyster mushrooms are relatively easy to grow and are suitable for smaller setups.
Shiitake mushrooms require more work, while maitake mushrooms and truffles are the most expensive to grow and sell.
- Analyze the market conditions and competition in your local environment. There’s typically an increase in demand for mushrooms, mainly because of the increasing popularity of vegan and vegetarian cuisines; however, you need to make sure that someone would actually be interested in buying your mushrooms.
If you feel that the local market wouldn’t be interested enough in your mushrooms, you need to study if there’s a possibility for mail or online orders.
How Much Time Do Mushrooms Take to Grow?
Oyster mushrooms usually take about 6 weeks to grow. This is why they’re perfect for part-time growers on dairy farms.
Only a few hours a week are enough to keep your oyster mushrooms growing. You can grow about 10 kg of mushrooms with 12 hours of work in an area of 10 m2.
Truffles usually take about 4 to 7 years to grow. Even then, experts agree that only 1 in 10 inoculated trees would actually produce truffles.
How Much Money Can You Make as a Mushroom Grower?
Oyster mushrooms can be sold for as much as $6 per pound in wholesale and about $12 in retail. If you have an area of 200 square feet on your dairy farm that you can dedicate to mushroom growing, you can grow about 5000 pounds of mushrooms per year, gaining almost $30000 in profit.
Truffles sell for higher prices that range between $250 and up to $800 per pound, depending on the rarity of the truffles. However, these are not suitable for small-scale growers because they need very specific nutrients, pH levels, and other requirements that would be difficult to achieve.
Where Can You Sell Your Mushrooms?
After your mushrooms are fully grown, you can sell them to different buyers.
- Local restaurants would be interested in buying locally grown mushrooms. They’re usually cheap and fresh, which restaurant owners would appreciate.
In the beginning, you might need to approach local chefs, giving them free samples to market your product. If they like your mushrooms, they will recommend your mushrooms to other restaurants.
- Take your mushrooms to local farmers’ markets. These are fun events where people gather to sell products and exchange information.
It’s not easy to secure your spot on the local farmers’ market, so you need to act fast. If you can’t find a spot, ask another farmer or grower if you could share their station.
- Check local grocery stores to see if they would be interested in your mushrooms. Your mushrooms will be fresher and cheaper than the mushrooms ordered by mail.
Can You Grow Mushrooms Indoors?
Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, oyster and shiitake mushrooms can both be grown in any indoor setup if the outside climate is too challenging.
If you have a barn, garage, or basement, this can be the right spot to grow your mushrooms. As long as you’re using the appropriate substrate, mushrooms will grow fast.
How are Mushrooms Grown?
Mushrooms aren’t grown from seeds like other vegetables and fruits. They’re produced from spores that are collected and grown in the right medium.
If you’re still a beginner, you might want to use mushroom ends because they’re easier to grow.
For the best results, you should start by using organic mushrooms. These will lead to the best results when you’re trying to grow new mushrooms on your dairy farm.
To grow the spores, you need to make sure that moisture and humidity levels are adequate. The spores produce a cottony structure called mycelium, which then forms the new mushrooms.
Indoor farming is more suitable for growing mushrooms because you will have better control over the humidity, light, and temperature.
What are the Detailed Steps of Growing Mushrooms?
You can duplicate the natural process of mushrooms’ growth in your dairy farm. Here are the detailed steps.
- Prepare the most appropriate bedding to grow your mushrooms. Moistened straw, sawdust, hamster bedding, or even shredded cardboard can be used to grow mushrooms.
- Make sure that you have organic and healthy oyster mushrooms to start your new growth. Separate the tops from the ends, and cut the ends into ¼ -inch pieces.
- Use a suitable container to grow the ends. Place the straw or any other moist medium at the bottom, add a layer of mushroom ends, then another layer of the growing medium until the container is full.
- It’s recommended to keep the mushroom ends in a dark humid place. Mushrooms don’t grow well in high temperatures, and the ideal temperature should be between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cover the box or container with a layer of plastic to control the airflow.
- Keep on misting the growing medium if you feel that it’s dry.
- It takes between 2 to 4 weeks for the mycelium to get ready. In another 2 to 3 weeks, your mushrooms will be ready for harvest.
Can Mushrooms Be Grown in Compost?
Yes, they can. However, there will be problems with low yield.
Most small-scale farmers prefer to grow mushrooms in a sterilized substrate to control the quality of mushrooms because there will be no contamination from other wild mushrooms spores.
Mushrooms can be easily grown on your dairy farm. As long as you’re using the right substrate, mushrooms can be grown in as fast as 6 weeks.
Oyster and shiitake mushrooms are usually in high demand. This is why you can grow mushrooms as a part-time business that doesn’t take much effort or time.